A&E Network's Intervention first came on the cable television scene in 2005. The TV reality series explores the world of addiction in every episode, focusing on ordinary people who are battling alcoholism, heroin, cocaine, PCP, methamphetamine, oxycontin, bath salts and other chemical/non-chemical dependencies. Family and friends arrange interventions, whereby they try to push the addict into a recovery program.
Intervention first aired over the A&E Network in March 2005. The series focuses on real people with real addictions who are brought into intervention by family, friends and professionals in order to get them help for their chemical/non-chemical dependencies.
A&E's Intervention Debuts in 2005
A&E's Intervention debuted on March 6, 2005, with the episode "Alyson/Tommy." Alyson is a morphine and crack addict while Tommy is addicted to cocaine. The first segment ably set the stage for the hard-hitting series, with Alyson stealing painkillers from her dying father and ex-stockbroker Tommy living on the streets, having lost his job, 401(K) and luxury condominium to his expensive drug habit.
Although no episode is typical, the segment "Sean" (3/12/12) provides a good look into the series. Sean – no last name is given – is a 39-year-old part-time DJ living in Columbus, Ohio. He's been an alcoholic for at least ten years, drinking up to a half-gallon of vodka every day. His chief enabler is his 58-year-old sugar mama girlfriend and his young daughter Lyndsay, both of whom provide him with money to buy alcohol. It's not unusual for Sean to rack up a $100-200 bar bill per day, with Lyndsay giving him half her income to support his habit. She often picks up her dad at some watering hole near closing time, paying the bar bill and taking him home.
Sean began drinking as a youth, mainly to ease the anxiety and pain he felt. His initial choice of poison: shots of Wild Turkey. Sean's drinking has spiraled out of control, adversely affecting his health and his relationship with his family. Sean needs surgery in order to correct an alcohol-induced esophageal problem, but refuses the operation because he would have to quit drinking. "I lost my fear of dying," Sean declares in one scene. "I want my misery to be over with."
The doctors have given Sean two years to live if he doesn't stop drinking. Sean's father, two brothers and daughter fear they will lose him and arrange an intervention. Seth Jaffe, the professional interventionist who was a heroin addict for 19 years before becoming clean, hosts Sean's family at a pre-intervention. Here he explains Sean's devious behavior, and how the addict uses family members to continue his addiction. If Sean doesn't agree to get help, he warns them, they must cut him off completely and let him live (or die) with the consequences of his own actions. No more money, no more help.
Sean, who had previously agreed to be filmed on a reality show exploring addiction, is brought to the actual intervention by daughter Lyndsay. He of course is unaware of the intervention and is surprised when he sees family members gathered together, along with interventionist Seth Jaffe. They read aloud various declarations in which they implore Sean to seek help. A shaken, emotional Sean finally agrees.
There's no happy ending to this segment, however, as Sean, who was set to enter rehabilitation at White Deer Run in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, bolts from the car taking him there. He says he will go the next morning but fails to show up at a 7AM meeting with Seth Jaffe. We later learn that Sean returned to his girlfriend in Columbus where he continues to drink and has limited contact with his family. Some people you just can't help...
Interventionist Seth Jaffe - A&E
Intervention: Name an Addiction
Intervention provides a fascinating look into the world of chemical dependency and addiction. Now in its 12th season on A&E, Intervention has explored a virtual potpourri of addictions, including alcohol, heroin, PCP, methamphetamine, bath salts, ocycontin, crack cocaine and an array of prescription drugs. Also in the mix are episodes dealing with such addictions as compulsive gambling, sex, food, video games, compulsive shopping, self-mutilation, exercise and plastic surgery.
As one might expect, Intervention is not an easy series to watch. In fact, most episodes are downright depressing and/or heartbreaking as we watch the subjects spiral out of control. There's Rachel who supports her heroin addiction as a prostitute; Gabe who has lost over $200,000 at the casinos due to his compulsive gambling; Antwahn Nance the former NBA player who becomes a homeless crack addict; Eddie the former college baseball All-American whose alcoholism has fueled five DUIs, et al.
In addition to the regular, first name only addicts, Intervention has also featured episodes focusing on celebrity addiction. Among the celeb addicts featured were Soul Train dancer Lorna Dune (crack cocaine), Days of the New band member Travis Meeks (methamphetamine), actress Linda Li (Actiq) and Chuckie Negron, son of Three Dog Night singer Chuck Negron (heroin).
Fortunately, not all is lost as interventions do work. There are success stories, always tempered of course by the inevitable failures and relapses.
Got your PDR – Physicians' Desk Reference – handy? You're going to need it when watching Intervention...
- A&E's Intervention TV logo - A&E
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner